Royal Mail Announces Special 2017 Stamps

Royal Mail has announced its schedule for its “special stamp program” for 2017. Stamps to be issued include castles, birds, windmills, and more. A tentative issuance schedule is found below the press release. Additional stamp issues are anticipated to be announced at a future date.

[Royal Mail January 2, 2017 Press Release]

ROYAL MAIL REVEALS ITS SPECIAL STAMP PROGRAM FOR 2017
•    Royal Mail’s Special Stamp program commemorates anniversaries and celebrates events relevant to UK heritage and life
•    Windsor Castle, the world’s oldest and largest occupied castle and an official residence of HM The Queen, will be celebrated with a set of 10 stamps launched in February
•    The 1989 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Desert ‘Dessie’ Orchid is included in Racehorse Legends. The stamp set features original artwork of eight champion horses achieving their greatest wins on UK race courses over six decades
•    The Wren, the most common UK breeding bird, is included in the  Songbirds issue – featuring 10 beautiful birds that herald spring and summer

Royal Mail’s 2017 Special Stamp program is set to showcase the “Best of British” in a range of subjects from some of the greatest racehorses from the past six decades to beautiful birds that herald spring and summer in the UK.

Windsor Castle, the oldest inhabited castle in world and an official residence of HM The Queen, is celebrated with iconic views of both the interior and exterior of the castle. Featured in the set is an image of the world-famous Round Tower that has dominated the Berkshire skyline for over 800 years.

Racehorse Legends will feature eight champion horses that achieved their greatest wins on UK race courses over the last six decades. The stamp issue features original artwork commissioned by Royal Mail of four flat racers and four national hunt horses captured in action during the course of their iconic wins. Included in the stamp issue is Desert ‘Dessie’ Orchid winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989.

The Songbirds issue in May will present 10 beautiful birds that herald spring and summer in the UK.

2017 Special Stamp Program
January                       Ancient Britain
February                     Windsor Castle
April                            Racehorse Legends
May                             Songbirds
June                             Windmills and Watermills
July                              First World War: 1917
July                              Landmark Buildings
August                         Classic Toys
November                    Christmas

The Nativity — The Manger

Not many nations — even those with a strong Christian base — put an image of the Nativity on their stamps much before the 1970s. As we saw in our Christmas Firsts blog, Hungary first put Nativity imagery on a stamp in 1943. (For argument’s sake, we’re calling the Nativity as depicting the Holy Family — Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus in a manger-like setting.)

The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.
The 2016 stamp with a silhouette design was just the third U.S. stamp showing a manger scene.

The United States has rarely put an image of a manger scene or Holy Family on a stamp, instead for a religious motif at Christmas opting for master artworks of the Madonna and Child, along with the occasional angel. The first full Madonna and Child stamp was in 1966, followed quickly by a second in 1967. Two more were issued in 1973 and 1975, and in 1978, the Postal Service started a run of 22 consecutive years showing a Madonna and Child master artwork. No Christmas stamps were issued in 2000, and although it’s been more sporadic, the Madonna and Child imagery has appeared on 10 more stamps.

In 1970, the religious U.S. stamp showed a manger scene, presenting Nativity (1523), by Lorenzo Lotto, and in 1971, the stamp showed a detail from Adoration of the Shepherds (c. 1505) by Giorgione, followed in 1976 by Nativity (c. 1777), by John Singleton Copley. Not until this year, did another manger/Nativity scene show up on a U.S. Christmas stamp. Interestingly, this year also saw a new Madonna and Child stamp.

It’s interesting to see how other nations present the Madonna and Child, some in traditional forms, sometimes in modernized images, and some depicting the Holy Family in that country’s traditional stylings.

National Postal Museum Opens “From Royal Mail to Public Post” Exhibition

[NPM October 21 Press Release]

National Postal Museum Opens
“From Royal Mail to Public Post” Exhibition

Observing the 500th Anniversary of the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail

“From Royal Mail to Public Post” opened today, Oct. 21, at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. The exhibition, open through Jan. 16, 2017, chronicles postal reform in the United Kingdom.

The United Kingdom’s postal service, Royal Mail, observes its 500th anniversary in 2016. To mark the occasion, the National Postal Museum is presenting a temporary display of original documents from 1635 and 1840, pivotal years in the expansion and evolution of the country’s postal network. The exhibition includes the earliest known example of the world’s first stamp, the Penny Black, dated April 10, 1840, from the archives of leading British postal reformer Robert Wallace. These important documents chronicling postal reform in the United Kingdom are on loan from the private collection of British businessman and philatelist Alan Holyoake.

First Proof of Penny Postage Stamp Cover. Presented to Mr. [Robert] Wallace by the Right Honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Francis Thornhill Baring, April 10, 1840. Loan from Alan Holyoake. Photo courtesy National Postal Museum.
First Proof of Penny Postage Stamp Cover. Presented to Mr. [Robert] Wallace by the Right Honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Francis Thornhill Baring, April 10, 1840. Loan from Alan Holyoake. Photo courtesy National Postal Museum.
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